For President Obama, putting people back to work is high priority, and something he says his 447-billion-dollar jobs bill will do.
"These independent economists say that we could grow the economy as much as 2 percent and as many as 1.9 million workers," said Mr. Obama.
The president has been pushing the plan everywhere, at: a press conference last week, on the road, on Facebook and Twitter and in his weekly address.
"This is not the time for the usual games or political gridlock in Washington. The bill would cut payroll taxes, extend unemployment benefits, give tax credits for raising wages or hiring out of work veterans or the long-term unemployed. And provide money to keep public workers on the job and invest in rebuilding schools and roads. It would paid for with a 5-point-6 percent tax on income over a million dollars, starting in 2013," said Mr. Obama.
The political stakes for the president are high. No president since Franklin Roosevelt has been re-elected with an unemployment rate above 8 percent.
Still, chances are slim that the entire package will pass in this political climate; and even if it survives the Senate, it faces a tough road in the House.
"We have a difference of opinion with the White House on how best to create jobs. We don't think doubling down on failed stimulus policies which have already proven to fail is the right way to go," said Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan. "We want to work with ideas that have proven to work. That means helping small businesses grow. That means getting certainty in our policy: regulations, taxes, debt so that small businesses can grow.
House Republicans say the bill will do little to create jobs.
"It's doing the same thing that's been done before, and expecting to have a different outcome," said California Representative Derrell Issa.
Economists say some of the bill's provisions like the payroll tax cut for employers would add jobs, though how many is in question.
"There isn't enough demand for the good and services our economy can produce and so things you can do to boost that will at least temporarily create more jobs next year," said Director of the Tax Policy Center Donald Marron. "The kinds of things being discussed are not by any stretch permanent solutions. The economy is suffering after the financial crisis. It takes a long time to heal and frankly there aren't any things on the congressional calendar that will substantially change that."
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